Update on Franklin High

In a previous posting, I mentioned a 1966 recording of LOUIE LOUIE by the Franklin High School Choir Orchestra and Stage Band. At the time I wrote it, I wasn’t sure where this high school was located but I had a feeling it was based in Seattle.

I just received another message that confirms that it was indeed the high school based in Seattle:

This concerns your post of a rendition of Louie Louie by the Franklin High School stage band from a record album that was a “thrift store special.” (I still own a couple of those albums.)

I confirm your assumption that the stage band was from the Franklin High School that is located in Seattle, Washington. I played alto saxaphone in that stage band. We played Louie Louie as a “pep band” at our basketball games, pep assemblies, etc. That record album was produced in 1966 (or possibly in the fall 1965) as one of the many fundraising projects for the choir (named Bel Cantos) and stage band’s 30-day concert tour of Europe in June 1966. We visited and performed in Scotland, Wales, England, West Germany, Berlin, France, and The Netherlands.

It appears that the complete record album, including Louie Louie, is now posted at:

The 1966 Bel Cantos Choir and stage band is having its first reunion in October of this year, 2009.

Doug Schafer
Franklin High School Class of 1967

Franklin High (1966) – 1st high school recording? – LOUIE of Week

This week, I’m awarding the LOUIE of the Week award to a thrift store special. My pal Jeff Miller of Wiley’s Golden Oldies of Tacoma sent this LP to me. As luck would have it, I’m thinking this could very well be the world’s FIRST high school recording of the iconic melody.

This is a performance of the Franklin High School Choir Orchestra and Stage Band from the album entitled “The 1966 Bel Cantos Concert.”

Check out this little video clip I slapped together tonight with some photos of the album and some crusty old public domain footage….

There’s nothing on this record to provide information about what part of the United States that this particular “Franklin High School” was based. As people tend to move all over the place, dragging their record collection with them across the country, this could have been from any one of the 50 states, but I’m guessing that this was probably from the “Franklin High School” in Seattle, Washington. Richard Koehler was the choir director, and Waldo King was the band director for this group. Nobody thought about posting the city this school was based, much less a mailing address.

If you can positively identify which “Franklin High” this band was located, that would be appreciated.

Maybe you, or someone you know is on this recording? Stranger things have happened…

UPDATE: Mike Hintze did some research on this album, and this is what he came up with:

Yes, I think this is Frankiln High School in Seattle. I did a search on Richard Koehler and Waldo King, and got several hits on Waldo King – mostly from articles in the Seattle Times. Turns out he was a jazz music education pioneer in Seattle. Was at Roosevelt High School for a number of years. Didn’t find a direct mention of him at Franklin, but its a logical conclusion that this is the same guy.

RIP: Ricardo Montalbán, best actor in LOUIE LOUIE tragic death category

Richardo Montalbán in Naked Gun

Actor Ricardo Montalbán has passed away today at the age of 88. In the LOUIE LOUIE circles, he is best known for the role of Vincent Ludwig in the 1988 movie “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!”, playing an evil villain that died after being shot by Leslie Nielson, falling from the bleachers of a sports arena, only to be flattened by a stream roller, then walked over by a marching band that performs a wonderful rendition of “LOUIE LOUIE.”

I can’t think anyone else that had such a spectacular cinematic death involving the song “LOUIE LOUIE.” Ricardo Montalbán had no other peers in this particular category.

Here’s a little refresher for those of that forgot about his iconic film sequence..

Ricardo Montalbán was best known as Mr. Roarke on the TV show “Fantasy Island.” He also played one of the most popular villains in the “Star Trek” universe, playing the role of Khan Noonien Singh in a 1967 televison episode, reprising the role for the highly successful 1982 motion picture “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

Within the entertainment industry, Montalban was widely respected for his efforts to create opportunities for Latinos, although he and others believed that his activism hurt his career. In 1970, he founded the nonprofit Nosotros Foundation to improve the image and increase employment of Latinos in Hollywood.

Today, I discovered that Montalban also had an acting role in the 1966 motion picture “The Singing Nun“, starring Debbie Reynolds. That film was loosely based on the life of Jeanine Deckers, who had a number one hit with the song “Dominique,” which by some very strange coincidence was the very song that stood in the way of the Kingsmen‘s rendition of LOUIE LOUIE becoming a number one hit record in 1963.

How’s that for a strange tie-in to the LOUIE universe?

You can read more about the career of Ricardo Montalbán by visiting the Wikpedia entry at:

Politics and LOUIE LOUIE

Bloom County LOUIE LOUIE cartoon © Burke Breathed / Washington Post

I think I did pretty good this year.

Four years ago, I ran into some problems when I shared some of my political beliefs on this website, which probably wasn’t the best idea of mine, as I try to focus on a more universal appeal with this project. I’ve got friends on all ends of the political spectrum, which for the most part is wonderful, but folks do tend to get extremely passionate about their beliefs, which leads to some very spirited discussions. I think I did OK in resisting temptations to broadcast my personal political views on this website.

I’d like to think LOUIE LOUIE is a universal icon whose appreciation transcends the divisive nature of politics, but sometimes even LOUIE LOUIE is used as a political tool.

In 1964, Governor Matthew E. Welsh of Indiana took offense to the Kingsmen‘s version of LOUIE LOUIE, and urged Reid Chapman, radio/TV personality and President of the Indiana Broadcasters Association, to take action on this controversial song. After Reid Chapman sent out telegrams to Indiana radio stations, there were reports that the Governor was imposing censorship within the state of Indiana.

In 1985, thanks to the efforts of comedian Ross Shafer, the staff of KING TV, state Senator Al Williams and a substantial grassroots political movement, the state of Washington came very close to transforming LOUIE LOUIE into the official state song. During this campaign, Ned Neltner of Junior Cadillac was able to enlist songwriter Richard Berry in re-writing the lyrics for a very rendition of the song created specifically for the cause.

1n 1988, Berke Breathed created a funny Bloom County cartoon for the Sunday funny papers, imagining how Presidential candidates George H.W. Bush, Mike Dukakis and Bill the Cat would sing LOUIE LOUIE if such a musical showcase were to take place. (Click on the graphic above to see a higher-resolution image)

The link between LOUIE LOUIE and politics continues in the 21st Century.

During the recent elections of this year, Governor Chris Gregoire of Washington came out in full support of LOUIE LOUIE. I discovered a YouTube clip that not only demonstrates her appreciation of the song, but also a special version of the song created by Bill Hanson and Tom Pillow to support her candidacy.

Not surprisingly, Governor Chris Gregoire won re-election in November. The power of a catchy campaign song cannot be underestimated.

A few months ago, former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a presidential candidate, did a performance of LOUIE LOUIE his band Capitol Offense, which I mentioned back in September.

Another former governor from Arkansas, former President Bill Clinton has also performed LOUIE LOUIE in a public venue. During the last months of his presidency, he embarked on a “farewell tour” at the end of 2000, which included a visit to Dover High School at Dover, New Hampshire. While President Clinton was at this venue, some of the members of the school marching band talked him into playing saxophone with them, and the ONE song they performed was LOUIE LOUIE.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been told that the Kingsmen performed at Bill Clinton’s high school prom night.

NYPD Jazz Band honors music of Isaac Hayes

On Saturday, I attended the 19th San Jose Jazz Festival, one of the best annual music festivals in the San Francisco bay area. One of the bands I saw there really impressed me by being so very different from all the other jazz, salsa, and blues groups at this event. The NYPD Jazz Band is a big band comprised entirely of police officers from the New York City Police Department. It’s quite spectacular to hear swing music done well with an 18 piece band, and these guys did a fantastic job, covering songs made popular by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Frank Sinatra, and even the lovely Norah Jones. I was so impressed by this group that I had to pull my little pocket camera out to shoot a little video of these performances.

One of the songs I was lucky enough capture on video was a performance of the “Theme From Shaft,” one of the greatest songs ever composed for a motion picture soundtrack.

As fate would happen, within 24 hours of seeing this excellent rendition, the man who wrote this song, Isaac Hayes died at his home in Memphis, Tennessee.

Here’s the video that I shot on Saturday:

Isaac Hayes had an impressive musical career, starting off as a songwriter and producer for Stax Records in Memphis — an R&B label of the 1960s that was often considered the southern counterpart to Motown in Detroit. Some of his best known compositions from this period included ”Soul Man” (recorded by Sam & Dave, revived by the Blues Brothers), ”Hold On! I’m Comin’,” and ”B-A-B-Y” (made popular by Carla Thomas).

Hayes’ breakout as a performer came in 1969 with his Hot Buttered Soul album. In 1971, his ”Theme from ‘Shaft,”’ won an Oscar and his performance at the Academy Awards catapulted him into the national consciousness.

His increased profile led to a career in movies, which included Tough Guys and Truck Turner (1974), Escape from New York (1981), I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988), and Hustle and Flow (2005). On television, he wound up as the voice of “Chef” on the controversial animated series South Park, which ended in 2006 when he had a dispute with creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone over some religious satire.

Hayes recently finished work on a movie called Soul Men, which also stars Bernie Mac, who passed away on Saturday. The film is scheduled to be released in November 2008.

UPDATE: I posted another clip of the NYPD Jazz Band at the SJ Jazz Festival. Check out the other video clip I posted to YouTube. You can hear some of the jazz standards they performed, and a pretty amazing version of the Star-Spangled Banner. I have a lot of respect for these guys – policing one of the toughest cities in America, and performing really beautiful music. This is the kind of thing that speaks to a higher power of serving others, and I can’t help but admire this kind of service.

I wish more police departments had jazz bands.

The LOUIE Kazoos of Peoria!

Right now in Peoria, Illinois, many people are gathering for a big celebration of LOUIE LOUIE. Here’s the full details of this event, according to the Peoria Parks website:

Event: Louie Louie Festival
Date: Fri, May 26
Location: The Landing
Hours: 3:00pm – midnight
Admission: free

Description: The Illinois Valley Striders signal the beginning of summer with Peoria ’s ever-popular Louie Louie Festival! Bring your kazoo and your most creative outfit down to the CEFCU Center Stage. Enjoy the warm breeze and a cold beverage while hearing the Jimmy Buffett inspired tunes of The Boat Drunks and more!

Brad Burke of the Peoria Journal Star has a nice article you can read by clicking here.

The first person to send me a videotape or DVD of this event gets a limited-edition, empty bottle of the ultra-rare LOUIE LOUIE wine cooler.

A Berkeley LOUIE event I missed in 1998

Even with a webpage, various write-ups in international newspapers, and a prominent acknowledgement in a book by Dave Marsh, I still can’t find out about all things connected to LOUIE LOUIE untill they’re over.

Here’s something that happened in my “backyard,” 7 years ago, about 50 miles from my home office.

Some Louie trivia that you should know about:

I organized what might have been one of the biggest versions of Louie, Louie in Berkeley, CA in the summer of 1998. I put together a music festival all over downtown with about 250 musicians playing simultaneously all over downtown (The downtown Berkeley Music Circus) – including in fast food joints, the elevator of Ross Dress for Less, Walgreens, Eddie Bauer, balconies, in cars, sidewalks, etc. All performers were instructed to carry a radio, and to turn to KPFA, 94.1 at exactly 2:00. I was in the radio station with a rhythm section, and counted off Louie, Louie with the rhythm section playing on the radio. The idea was for everyone to play it at the same time all over downtown using the radio as the conductor. Many musicians told me it was very successful.


Randy Porter

This is a brilliant idea. I’m annoyed that I didn’t know about this when it happened, as I would have loved to have videotaped this event.

Perhaps history should repeat itself. 2003 was the year political flash mobs came into vogue. Maybe the time is right for a massive “LOUIE LOUIE mob” all over the world? I’m partial to kazoos and banjos, but you can play LOUIE LOUIE with pretty much ANY musical instrument….

Volunteers, anyone?